Old Testament Story List

The Homecoming

Daniel was one of the greatest prophets, as well as a great man in the country where he lived. By his courage and trueness to God he caused several heathen kings to respect the religion of the Jews, and he lived to see the time when King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return again to Judah.

Cyrus, the new king, sent this message to the

Jews scattered everywhere throughout his kingdom: "The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of earth; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Now who is there among his people - the Jews - who will go up to Jerusalem and build this house for God?"

Zerubbabel, who belonged to the family of David became the leader of the people who returned to Jerusalem, but he ruled as a prince under the command of King Cyrus; for the throne of David was not restored in Jerusalem again.

Cyrus had given them the vessels of gold and of silver which Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple before he set it on fire, and they were taking those vessels back to be used in the new temple. And Cyrus had commanded their neighbors and friends to give them rich gifts of gold and silver. So they were well laden for their journey.

In the ruins of Jerusalem, the people found the place where the temple of the Lord used to stand. They found the rock where the altar of the Lord had been built. And here the priests and the Levites cleared away the rubbish and gathered stones to build a new altar. Then they began again to offer sacrifices to God each morning and each evening, just as the law of Moses commanded them to do.

There were strangers living near Jerusalem who were not Jews. When they saw the work that the Jews had commenced, they asked permission to help in the building of the temple. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the high priest, knew these men did not worship God in the right way, and they would not accept help from them.

These strangers were Samaritans, the people who came to live in Israel after the northern tribes were carried away into captivity. These were the people who had a mixed religion - a mixture of the true religion and idol worship. When their request was refused, they became angry and sent letters back to the king of Persia, accusing the Jews of falsehoods. Finally, they caused the building of the temple to come to a standstill.

Several years passed by, and the Jews were not allowed to finish the temple. So they built comfortable homes for themselves and began to work in the fields near Jerusalem.

Finally, God caused the new king of Persia - another king named Darius - to be friendly toward the Jews. But the Jews did not ask him to help them. They did not try to finish the work which they had begun on the temple. So God sent a prophet, named Haggai, to urge them to get at the work again on the temple.

So Zerubbabel and Jeshua began once more on the temple building. When they commenced work, the Samaritans came down to see what they were doing. They asked, "Who has given you order to do this?" And they answered, "Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us to build this house of God." The Samaritans did not believe their words, and they wrote a letter to King Darius telling what the Jews had said. But when Darius looked in the records that had been kept during the rule of Cyrus, he found that Cyrus had indeed commanded the Jews to rebuild the temple. So he sent word back to the Samaritans, telling them not to hinder the Jews, but rather to give them money to help hurry on the great work which Cyrus had commanded them to do. After this, they ceased to hinder the Jews.

When the temple was finally completed, the Jews held a great feast, and they offered many sacrifices to the Lord. They rejoiced very much because God had given them a friend in the new king of Persia.

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